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Grad Students

Iris I. Clever

Contact Information

Email    irisclever@ucla.edu
Office  6265 Bunche Hall

My research focuses on the introduction of biometric approaches in physical anthropology in the early 20th century and the conflicts this generated between the older anatomically oriented school of anthropology and new members entering the discipline with a more statistical approach. These conflicts centered on international standardization of instruments and measurement techniques, sample sizes, and the “correct” way to produce and reduce anthropometric data. My current project looks into the craniometric research that was conducted in Karl Pearson’s Biometric Laboratory. I am also interested in field encounters between physical anthropologists and the non-western peoples they wished to measure, as well as the re-use of this historical anthropometric data in present-day economic studies of historical standards of living. 


Fields of Study

History of Science and Medicine


My dissertation focuses on the production, circulation, and use of anthropometric data in the early twentieth century and its deployment for racial research. I am interested in anthropometric measurement practices, its techniques and materialities, the role of statistical methods in processing data and producing racial categories, as well as conflicts over anthropometric techniques. This dissertation brings together a transnational group of scholars whose work relied heavily on data practices and who were central to the development of physical anthropology (UK/US/Germany). Moreover, it traces the history of a single anthropological instrument: the caliper. The caliper not only connects the encounters during which measurements were taken with the production of data, it also allows me to trace the use of anthropometric methods after World War II: where the caliper mostly measured skulls and heads before the war, the instrument transformed into a skinfold device in the 1950s to meet the research efforts of health studies.


Iris Clever, "Book Review: 'Measuring the Master Race' by Jon Royne Kyllingstad," JRAI (forthcoming)

Iris Clever, “Book Review: ‘Constructing Race’ by Tracy Teslow,” History of Anthropology Newsletter 40, no. 1 (2016): http://histanthro.org/book-review-constructing-race-by-tracy-teslow/.

I. Clever and W.G. Ruberg, "Beyond Cultural History? The Material Turn, Praxiography, and Body History," Humanities 3 (2014) 546-566."

Grants and Awards

2017-2019. E.J. Brandenburg Fund for Research Travel

2018. American Philosophical Society Library Fellowship

2017. CERS Dissertation Research Fellowship

2016. Peter Reill Summer Research Travel Stipend

2015. Predoctoral Research Fellow Max Planck Institute for the History of Science 

2015. Benjamin Nickoll Summer Research Travel Stipend

Conference Presentations

“Finding a Formula for Race. Quantifying Racial Differences in Early Twentieth Century Physical Anthropology,” Histories of Anthropology: Transforming Knowledge and Power (1870-1970). University of Cambridge, 18-19 September 2017

“The Anthropological Politics of Scientific Universalism. Standardization in Anthropometry and Miriam Tildesley’s International Standardization Committee (1928-1945),” History of Anthropology Conference: the rise of university departments 1918-1945. Royal Anthropological Institute, London, 13-14 December 2016.

“Finding Unity in Anthropometry. The Establishment of the International Standardization Committee (1928-1934).” Symposium Body History Seminar: Paper Technologies. Utrecht University, 29 August 2016.


Dr. Soraya de Chadarevian (chair)
Dr. Theodore Porter
Dr. Andrew Apter
Dr. Lynn Hunt


M.A. History, Utrecht University, 2013.
B.A. History, Utrecht University, 2011.